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Hampshire to Host Five College PoetryFest 2016

Festival features two students from each member of the Five College consortium selected by their institution to read their poetry

Student poets Nora Miller and Lily Cook will represent Hampshire at the Five College PoetryFest on Thursday, March 24, in Hampshire's Airport Lounge. 

Lily Cook

Launched in 2002 to celebrate the art of poetry by giving recognition to student poets,  the Five College PoetryFest features two students from each member of the Five College consortium — Amherst, Mount Holyoke, Hampshire, Smith, and UMass — who have been selected by their institution to read their poetry.

Miller, 13F, will be starting her Division III in the fall, with a concentration in both poetry and archival studies. Her archival work centers on a process of story-finding, and she’s interested in what it’s possible to derive from fragmentary or decontextualized information. For her poetry component, she says, Assistant Professor of Creative Writing and African American Literary Arts John Murillo and Assistant Professor of Poetry Aracelis Girmay have been especially powerful influences.

“In my work in archives, I actively aim to tell stories through contextualization,” says Miller. “In my poetry, however, I aim to decontextualize. I’m curious about the heaviness of dreams, the way a series of fractured everyday images can produce a sorrow or a curiosity or a something beyond the scope of their physical realities. Beneath their often surreal worlds, my poems tell stories about the things I’ve seen and felt and wondered.”

Cook, 15F, is in her first year at the College and in the midst of determining her academic focus. One course she credits with having a strong impact on her writing is Professor Murillo’s Intermediate Poetry Workshop: Lyric, Narrative, Lyric-Narrative.

“I used to think that my poems could only be written directly after an experience, and was skeptical about the contrived feeling of freewriting exercises,” she says. “Professor Murillo's class has helped me realize that freewriting can produce genuine work.” Cook adds that she’s honored to be participating in PoetryFest:. “Hampshire's community really fosters and celebrates creativity, so I’m looking forward to reading and to hearing the work of my peers.”

The other participants in this year’s PoetryFest are Aleksandra Burshteyn and Victoria Luizzi, from Amherst College; Savannah Marciezyk and Aria Pahari, from Mount Holyoke College; Madison Chafin and Precious Musa, from Smith College; and Caitlyn Griffin, and Adara North, from UMass Amherst.

The Five College PoetryFest is judged by an external, anonymous poet with no ties to any of the schools. All the participants will have five minutes to read their poems, and each will have five poems or five pages of poetry published in a collection that will be available, for free, at the event.

Moving Day

By Lily Cook

Here we soaked termites in rubbing alcohol
Here my brother and I biked up and down hallways
so narrow our handlebars hit the walls

Dad’s shoulders were my transportation of choice
Take me to the left twin’s lobby
men here hold briefcases but you can just hold my hand.

Planes changed these Saturday afternoon plans
And my bedroom view is bluer now
More empty sky like a kid
who just lost his baby teeth

New York has red tender gums
Our front teeth kicked in on the playground.
Moving day it rains and we move
it stops and we unpack.



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